Guide for Penn Law Staff – Choosing a Remote Communication Tool

This page is intended to walk you through the options available to Penn Law staff for choosing a remote communication tool to support your program, meeting, or other activities. 

For each type of remote programming, you will see a selection of recommended tools with links to help you get started.

If you have questions about your pedagogical goals and how to meet them, Genevieve Tung from Biddle Law Library can consult: gtung@law.upenn.edu.

If you have technology questions related to the tools, please contact ITS at itshelp@law.upenn.edu

Live Meetings or Presentations to Small Groups (50 people or fewer)

Zoom Meetings

Overview: Zoom Meetings allow for synchronous, video discussion among a group of people.Works well for interviews or meetings with 1 or more participants (up to 49 attendees can be shown at once).

Features and Advantages:

  • Participants need only receive a link (easily shared via calendar invitation) to join the event. No pre-registration required.
  • Meeting host can share their screens to display Power Point, a web browser, a whiteboard display, etc.; a host can appoint “co-hosts” who may also share their screens.
  • Meetings may be recorded
  • Features include polling, a digital whiteboard, and the ability to split the audience into small groups for breakout discussion.
  • Participants can communicate with host(s) and each other by speaking directly or using “chat.”
  • “Virtual Background” feature supports participant privacy.
  • Can also be used to record interviews or conversations that are then shared with a group.

Potential Issues and Considerations:

  • Quality is highly dependent on the host and users’ internet connections.
  • Password, other security…
  • Hosts must take care in setting up meeting defaults (e.g., for video/audio muting) and about communicating a set of Zoom meeting “norms”; e.g., how to conduct the discussion—will you ask participants to use the “raise hand” feature? Use the “chat” function?
  • Only Zoom hosts can record by default.

ITS Live Training Sessions:

Online Training Resources:

Teams Meeting

Overview: Microsoft Teams also allows for synchronous video discussion among a group of people. 

Features and Advantages:

  • Teams may be used to quickly initiate video calls with individuals or groups. 
  • “Virtual Background” and Background blur features supports participant’s privacy.
  • Teams is designed to integrate seamlessly with other Microsoft tools (e.g., OneNote, Word, etc.)
  • Meeting host can share their screens to display Power Point, a web browser, a whiteboard display, etc.; a host can appoint “co-hosts” who may also share their screens.
  • Participants can communicate with host(s) and each other by speaking directly or using “chat.”
  • Can also be used to record interviews or conversations that are then shared with a group.

Potential Issues and Considerations:

  • Currently, only 4 participants can be viewed simultaneously in a meeting
  • Only Meeting host can record by default.
  • Quality is highly dependent on the host and users’ internet connections.

ITS Live Training Sessions:

Online Training Resources:

Creating a Pre-Recorded Video Lecture, Presentation, or Podcast

Panopto

Overview: Panopto is the preferred platform for recording solo content for viewers to watch at a later time. It is suitable for creating training materials, recording lectures or presentations, or any other asynchronous information sharing. It is also integrated into the Canvas learning management system.

Features & Advantages: 

  • Offers high quality recording capabilities. Users can record their computer screen (e.g., web browser or other display) or a PowerPoint presentation. PowerPoint recordings will be keyed to the audio presentation and are searchable. Users may also record a screen display and use a webcam simultaneously.
  • No network access is needed to conduct a recording. (Network access is required to upload a finished recording.)
  • Supports video editing to create polished recordings.
  • Panopto is already routinely used to record on-campus classes (e.g., during add/drop periods) and is thus likely familiar to many student viewers.

Potential Issues and Considerations:

  • Can be taxing on your computer, especially for older machines.
  • ITS recommends closing out any applications you will not be using for the recording.
  • No audience/participants can join remotely.

ITS Live Training Sessions:

Online Training Resources:

Recording from your iPhone

Overview: The iPhone gives users the power to easily record high-quality video at any time.

Features & Advantages:

  • Enables recording without any specialized equipment, or if your computer does not include a webcam.
  • Familiar and easy to use.

Potential Issues and Considerations:

  • Video recording requires a lot of light; may need advance planning to leverage the phone’s capabilities (e.g., a secure mount to prevent shakiness).
  • Audio quality is typically not high.
  • Requires time-consuming file transfer to deliver recordings to platforms where users can access them.

Online Training Resources:

 

Live Presentations or Programs for Large Groups

Zoom Webinars

Please  consult with ITS if you are interested in hosting a Zoom Webinar. 

Zoom’s Webinar function allows for hosting live digital events (e.g., town halls, large information sessions, etc.). Zoom Webinars can accommodate multiple speakers and a large audience. View ITS’s guidance for setting up and managing Zoom webinars here

Features and Advantages:

  • Easy set-up; no specialized equipment required.
  • Participants need only receive a link (easily shared via calendar invitation) to join the event. No pre-registration required.
  • Speakers and panelists can share their screens to display PowerPoint, a web browser, a whiteboard display, etc.
  • The ‘Chat’ function allows audience members to ask text-based questions of the speakers, for easy moderation.
  • Programming may be recorded and shared after the event.

 

Potential Issues and Considerations:

  • Requires Quality is highly dependent on the host and users’ internet connections.
  • Security precautions are necessary to prevent intrusions by outside parties (i.e., “zoombombing”).
  • Organizers should think carefully about setting up defaults to achieve the desired outcome—e.g., should individual participant questions to be visible to all participants?
  • It may be helpful to have a designated organizer who is not speaking monitor the ‘Chat’ feature to avoid missing audience questions.

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